Posted by Andy Benoit
Not surprisingly, Peyton Manning and Bill Polian are displeased -- perhaps even downright angry -- with the NFL’s new ball-spotting rule. Because umpires are now lining up in the backfield, it’s taking longer for them to spot the ball. And, after they spot the ball, they must run back to their spot some 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Consequently, the quarterback must look to the line judge to get a go-ahead to snap the ball. As we saw at Lambeau Field last Thursday night, this slows Indy’s hurry-up offense.
As usual, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, in his most recent Monday Morning Quarterback Column, got great insight on the mess. Manning told King, "If we had this rule last year there's no way we catch up in that New England game. We were down, what, 21 points in the fourth quarter? We wouldn't have had enough time to run enough plays to catch up. But forget about that game. Let's chart all the comeback wins where a team runs the hurry-up in the fourth quarter. How many of those games would have ended up the same way -- or would the quarterbacks have had enough time to run enough plays to come back and win?''
Indy’s gripe also pertains to the snap infringement penalty (which they were flagged for twice against Green Bay). "I am dead-set against the penalty,'' Polian, who is on the Competition Committee, said. "It is insane. If I knew it would be this way, I'd have voted against it, and not only that, I'd have crusaded against it.''
It is believed that the NFL will try to fix the timing issues, though VP of officiating, Carl Johnson, doesn’t seem too creative at this point.
"The way the new mechanic of the umpire positioning is, I don't have a resolution to that,'' Johnson told King. "It's going to take a couple extra seconds to spot the ball. There's no way around that. But this is a work in progress. We're aggressively seeking ways to improve the mechanics.''
King bounces around several ideas for what the league can do to remedy the problem. A major obstacle is that the league has already acknowledged that the umpire was moved because of safety concerns. This significantly limits the possibility of simply moving the umpires back to his original spot. After all, if that were to happen, then not only would the league be saying it doesn’t care about the umpire’s safety, but it could also be liable if an umpire were to get seriously injured.
It’s safe to assume that when the apparently hasty decision to relocate the umpire was made, the NFL did not foresee having to deal with so many issues this close to the start of the regular season.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .